1st T20I: Babar Azam top scores as Pakistan limp to 107

Babar Azam stroked 59 in a game restricted to 15 overs due to rain.

Babar Azam scored 59. (AFP Image)

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The world’s top-ranked Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam stroked 59 as Australia were set a target of 119 after sending Pakistan into bat Sunday in a game restricted to 15 overs due to rain. Pakistan came into the series as the world’s leading team in the short format, but were also reeling from an embarrassing 3-0 home series loss to Sri Lanka last month.

They removed skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and dumped several other players in a bid for a fresh start, with opener Azam leading from the front with the captain’s armband. The 25-year-old, who averages over 50, smacked five fours and two sixes in his 38-ball knock to set Australia, fresh from a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka, a competitive target in Sydney.

Pakistan ended on 107 for five but play was halted for just over an hour mid-match, meaning Australia was set a revised target of 119. It was a decent recovery by the visitors after a terrible start when Fakhar Zaman was out first ball, hitting a swinging Mitchell Starc delivery straight to Steve Smith at backward point.

That brought Haris Sohail to the crease, but he made a poor decision in going after Kane Richardson too early, top-edging to Smith to leave the visitors struggling at 10 for two in the second over. But Azam and Mohammad Rizwan steadied the ship and began building a solid partnership, pushing the scoreboard along with clever running between the wicket and quality shots.

They reached the 10-over mark at 64 for two but Rizwan fell soon after for an entertaining 31 after trying to clear the boundary rope off spinner Ashton Agar only to see Pat Cummins take an easy catch. When they resumed at 88 for three in the 13th over after the rain break, Asif Ali fell to Richardson for 11 and Imad Wasim to Starc for a duck, leaving Azam to bring up his 11th T20 half-century.

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